Thursday, 18 June 2015

Challenge Williamsburg- 14th June

A couple of days after racing Raleigh 70.3 bags were packed and I was off to the next state for Challenge Williamsburg Virginia. I arrived at the accommodation in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday to significantly colder weather and rain, this continued for the next 4 days and forced me to resort to indoor training. Luckily I got in contact with Aaron from Endorphin fitness and was able to use their facility for the two weeks leading into the race which was great. Was also able to swim at a 50m pool for the first time since being away which was a relief, thanks to Jay Peluso for letting me jump in with his Open Water squad during my stay. The weather finally cleared on the weekend and I got the chance to start exploring the area by bike/foot and get in some longer rides. It wasn't long until the days started to heat up again, the 3 days leading into the race hit highs of 36-40°C (100°F) and humidity around 85-90% which made it feel a lot worse.

Headed to the race site on Saturday for some pre race training and athlete briefing. I had a swim in the morning which felt like bath at 28°C (81°F), got out, dried myself, next minute I was dripping wet again, humidity was out of control. Off to the briefing tent which Challenge Family had set up great for the Pro's with food and icy cold drinks. After briefing I finished up my last bit of pre race training and headed back to the accommodation for an early dinner and bed before the 3am wake up the next morning.
Race morning was here and at 3:30am on the way to the race, temp was already 27°C (80°F), today was going to be hot. This was another race with two transition so there is a little more running around to do before race start. First stop was T2 to setup run shoes and then off to swim start to setup bike and warm up. Everything was done on time and I was in the water warming up before race start. During the warm up I noticed how low the tide was and that I would be able to porpoise for the first 150m even though it was a knee deep start. The tide also pushed pretty strong out the back so it was going to be an interesting swim (non-wetsuit).

We were off and I was straight into porpoise getting and good couple of body lengths head start out to the first buoy. By the time I started swimming I was exhausted from the constant diving and jumping but had rounded the first can in the lead and settled into my pace. The length along the back straight was hard and I wasted a lot of energy leading the way into the current and small chop going against us on the water. Now rounded the 2nd buoy and heading back to the beach still in the lead but was struggling, I lost my lead at the 3rd buoy heading back along the beach, I sat on feet for the next few minutes to recover some energy and I was now feeling composed again and made a break when the leader started swimming a bit off course, back in front and not long to the finish. About 50m before the last buoy to turn and come into the beach we were in knee deep water and porpoise started again, all the way to the beach. I managed to get an 8sec advantage out of the water and now it was ride time.

Out onto the bike leg closely followed by Chrabot, Collington and Alessandroni, we had a 2-3min gap on the next group and pushed hard from the start. We remained in close contention for the first 14 miles but I stared to lose concentration and fade a little creating a gap between myself and the 3 leaders, I pedaled around in no man's land for a couple of miles but took on some nutrition and managed to bridge back up. About 3/4 into the bike Alessandrino was sitting in 2nd and started sitting right behind Collington, the race used the 'Staggered' rule and it was making it difficult for Chrabot and myself to continue in staggered formation. Having the head official on our tail the whole ride he was quick to pull Alessandrio up and make him serve a 2min penalty. The 3 of us continued to push hard for the rest of the ride through the hills, I was absolutely loving the new bike setup up, had just fitted some ski tip extensions and managed to get a lend of a Disc wheel for the first time a couple of days out from the race, combined with a few more hours on the 3D Bikefit I rode 2:06hrs. We came into transition together ready for the hot run ahead.
 Out onto the run and straight into the trails, the temp was now about 38°C (100°F), I felt great for the first mile or so and even snuck into first for a little while but as soon as we exited the trail and out into the sun it hit me and I started to fade quickly, slotting back into 3rd. The run was tough, only one small stretch of flat running and that was in the blazing sun, the rest was very hill though the trails and I couldn't  find any rhythm. 1 lap done, 3 to go and I was hurting, I had ran out of energy by start of lap two and it was now a physical and mental battle to get to the finish. Alessandrino had now passed me and I was running in 4th. Aid stations were few and far apart and I started walking through each one taking on water, Gatorade and a few cups of coke. Through lap 3 I had drank about 7 cups of coke and lost another position to Leifermann but early lap 4 my body started working again and was able to finish with a strong last lap to come across the line in 5th.
Overall still happy with 5th Pro at Challenge Williamsburg, another solid swim and bike but the run was just survival for me. That was definitely the hardest run I have ever done, the hilly course combined with the 'feels like' 42°C (107°F) heat wrecked me. I had thoughts of pulling out but I knew I would regret it at the end of the day even if I resorted to walking the last half I was still going to cross that line.

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